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How Often to Replace Brake Pads

Omkar Phatak
If you are wondering about how often to replace brake pads, then this article will be a helpful read. Read to know when to replace brake pads as a part of your car maintenance schedule.
A car's brake assembly is one of the most critical systems that need to be frequently monitored periodically. Of the many parts that make up a braking system, brake pads are the ones in need of constant attention.
Since your car's brake pads take the brunt of friction and heat when you hit the car brake pedal every time, they are bound to wear out over time. One of the most common queries about braking systems is 'How often to replace brake pads?'. That is the question which you will find answered in the following lines.

About Brake Pads

Before we talk about how often to replace brake pads, let us know some more about why brake pads are prime components of disk brakes. When you hit the car brake, brake pads press against the rotating disk rotors installed in brakes to slow them down and bring your car to a halt.
They are brought into action by brake calipers, which are actuated by a hydraulic mechanism. What a brake pad effectively does is that it converts the kinetic energy generated by car wheel's motion into thermal energy which it absorbs, to bring the car to a halt.
Although there are many types of brake pads, ranging from ceramic brake pads to semi-metallic, asbestos and even organic ones, all have a limited lifetime after which they must give in to the onslaught of heat and friction. All brake pads are generally made up of metallic surfaces with a covering of thick resistive material on the surface.
While asbestos was the default choice for brake pad material some years ago, it is not preferred anymore due to the health risks that it causes. Instead, alternative organic materials or combination materials containing copper fibers are being used. Brake pad designers need to achieve a balance between longevity and performance offered by a material.
There are many factors that decide how often to replace brake pads. These include the kind of material used, the intensity and frequency of usage, as well as transmission type. Let us see how often to replace brake pads in the next section.

How Often Should Brake Pads Be Changed?

Ideally, the recommended brake pads replacement interval is about 30,000 to 35,000 miles of running. This is only a rough estimate. A lot depends on the brake pad material and transmission type.
Cars with automatic transmission need a brake pad replacement more often than ones with manual transmission. How long do brake pads last, is entirely dependent on usage.
The best way to determine when to replace brake pads is to actually inspect the level of wear that they have suffered. Some cars have electronic sensors fixed in the brake pads, which send a signal to a dashboard light when brake pads wear out beyond a limit. Generally, when your brake pads are close to the end of their service life, they give you an audible screeching signal, which can be heard when you hit the brakes.
If you notice on inspection that your brake pads have thinned out to less than 1/8 th of an inch, it is time to change brake pads. Brake pad replacement is the simplest of car repair jobs to undertake. The brake pad replacement cost is quite nominal compared to replacement of other car brake parts.
While the recommended brake pad replacement interval was specified above, the recommended time interval will differ according to your car model, it's transmission type, and type of brake pads used. It is best to determine how often to replace brake pads, by actually inspecting them on your own. Make it a part of your regular car maintenance schedule. Read the worn brake pad signs and replace them as soon as possible.